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• Films and Recordings

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Films and Recordings

The Folger has included filmed works in its collection since the 1930s; in 1975, a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation made possible the creation of a permanent film archive. Today the Folger has a substantial collection of Shakespeare productions on film, video, and DVD, from the days of silent film to recent BBC and popular movie versions. Related materials in the Folger art and manuscript collections, such as press kits, souvenirs, and working copies of screenplays, add background and context to works on film from the early twentieth century up to the present.


The Folger also holds a variety of audio recordings, ranging from very early phonograph records to modern digital recordings. The early records, some of which date to the late nineteenth century, preserve, if only for brief passages, the voices of important Shakespearean actors such as Edwin Booth. The recording collection also includes published records, tapes, and CDs of the Folger Consort, the Folger’s resident early-music ensemble.


Facilities to watch and listen to the Folger’s audiovisual holdings are limited, but include modern audio, film-projection, and video equipment in meeting and viewing rooms. Audio recordings on early media are being transferred to digital form as library resources permit.


Folger Curator of Art and Special Collections Erin Blake has responsibility for the library’s audiovisual collection.

Selections from the Folger Film archive

Ellen Terry reciting the Mercy Speech from The Merchant of Venice. Phonograph, 1908

Publicity photograph of Laurence Olivier in Henry V, 1945, courtesy of Carlton International.

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